Historic Bath mixes history, art

Published 6:02 pm Friday, May 21, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

BATH — The Historic Bath State Historic Site plans to host a series of “mini-festivals” this summer in celebration of history and the arts.
Historic sites and museums across North Carolina are part of the collaborative effort to market history and the arts, said Leigh Swain, site manager at Historic Bath.
“A new program being launched is called Second Saturdays, and Historic Bath will be part of this statewide effort to strengthen community economic development and provide unique and authentic experiences to visitors,” Swain said. “The programs should help artists gain exposure and build connections in a different venue than some have experienced before. Likewise, the programs may pull in a different audience than historic sites are used to getting, hopefully resulting in repeat visitation.”
The series kicks off June 12 with “Pickin’ and Diggin’: Life in Eastern North Carolina.” The program takes a look at the challenges of farming and the rewards of that simpler lifestyle. Children will have the opportunity to harvest root crops in the garden of Historic Bath’s Van Der Veer House and also try their hand at potato stamping, Swain said.
Local artist Linda Poore will demonstrate the art of painting and decorating goose eggs, and vendors will sell fresh produce, jams, honey and tobacco-stick art. As a special treat, members of the Eastern Antique Power Association, based in Beaufort County, will display examples of antique farm equipment.
On July 10, the site will present “Strength through Struggle: The Pursuit of Freedom,” focusing on freedom fights for the country and for the African-American population. Jimmy Edwards will appear in character as Benjamin Franklin and read from the Declaration of Independence. Patriotic music will be performed.
Bath native LeRae Umfleet will share the research which led to the publication of her book “A Day of Blood: the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot” and sign copies of the book. Artist vendors will display and sell their work, too.
The three-part series concludes Aug. 14 with “Today is Tomorrow’s History: Capturing Our World Through Art.”
“If it were not for visual arts, much of our country’s history and landscape would not have been recorded,” Swain noted.
Pieces created by today’s artists helps document life in 2010 for future generations, Swain added. Among the displays will be a collection of photographs taken by Thomas Draper in Bath in the 1920s. Visual artists will paint or take photos on the grounds of the historic site, and some artists will sell and display their work.
“While there is limited space, we are very interested in finding more artists who would be interested in participating in our program, particularly if there is a good fit with one of our themes, although the two do not have to be related at all,” Swain said. “The point is to get people out to have a good time, while enjoying art and history simultaneously.”
For more information on the series, call the Historic Bath Visitors Center at 252-923-3971.